Hi there, 2017!
At this point, you probably have a lot of questions about what the next year holds for you. You don’t know who your friends will be, what classes you should take, or if you will ever get used to showering in co-ed bathrooms.
This article should help you answer one question, though: what does your meal plan mean, and how should you use it? You don’t want to end up like me last year and run out of points on Oct. 17 or like some of my friends who were begging for meal swipes from strangers by the end of the semester.
Keep in mind that you can change the meal plan you select between Sept. 2 through Sept. 13.
What are “meals”?
A “meal” can (oddly enough) buy you a meal at two locations on campus. Head over to the Usdan Marketplace, located on the second floor of the Usdan University Center, or to Summerfields, nestled on the first floor of the Butterfield C building. The Marketplace is all-you-can-eat, so spending just one meal here can be a very good deal. Summerfields tends to be expensive, so if you are planning to eat a full meal there it makes sense to use one of your meal credits. Meals that remain unused at the end of the semester are lost–they do not carry over to the next semester–so it generally makes sense to use them as much as possible.
What are “points”?
Roughly translated, a point is equivalent to a dollar. Points can be used at all eateries on campus (with the exception of Neon Deli, which does not accept WesCards). This includes the Usdan Marketplace, Summerfields, Usdan Café, Pi Café, Weshop, WesWings, Red and Black Café, and Espwesso, in addition to the two eating clubs, Star and Crescent and Chique Chaque.
What is “Middletown Cash”?
Middletown Cash is not included in your meal plan. If you have deposited Middletown Cash into your account, you can use your WesID to purchase food at the vending machines in Exley and Usdan and at several eateries in Middletown, including (but not limited to) Thai Gardens, New England Emporium, and Cherry Berry.
Which meal plan should I choose?
The default meal plan setting for freshmen includes 135 meals and 523 points per semester. Of your options, this plan includes the most points and the fewest meals, and it is generally recommended because it allows students maximum flexibility (meals are only accepted at the two main dining halls, while points are accepted at many additional locations). It is also recommended because leftover points will rollover from first semester to second semester, whereas leftover meals will not.
There are 15 weeks in the semester, so the 135-block plan averages to nine meals a week. At first this sounds like very few, assuming that you want to eat three meals a day. However, this does not take into account Fall Break and Thanksgiving Break–times when many students leave campus and therefore are not using any meals at all. Many students choose to skip regular breakfast at Usdan due to conflicting class schedules or a desire to save time. In addition, as the semester becomes busier, people often find that grabbing food at Weshop, Pi Café, or Usdan Café is more convenient than eating at a dining hall and using a meal.
However, this plan may not be right for you. For example, if you plan to eat Usdan breakfast on a daily basis, you will blow through meals much more quickly. A good strategy might be to track the number of points you use and the number of meals you eat for the first couple of weeks, and then if you wish to switch to a plan with more meals, you can still do so before the deadline. The 165-block plan averages 11 meals a week and the 210-block plan averages 14 meals a week. The 285-block plan, which costs $300 extra, averages 19 meals a week, meaning that you could eat at every single meal Usdan offers (only brunch and dinner on the weekends).
How many points/meals do I have left?
As in real life, which this is, it is good to be aware of the amount you have left to spend. When you purchase something you can ask the cashier to check how many points and meals you have left. You can also check online by accessing the WesCard website through your ePortfolio. You can then check the points calculator, maintained by Wesleying, which can tell you if you’re on track with your points usage.
I used up my meals in October and spent all of my points on Doritos. Now what?
My grandma wanted to see this article before I submitted it, and her answer to this question was, “If you stop being a pig, that could help.”
However, this type of thing does happen. But don’t worry, if you run out of meals, you can use points to buy entry to the dining halls where you would usually buy meals. If you run out of points, add more points through the WesCard website (it will be billed to your student account), or simply use Middletown Cash, which can also be deposited through that same website.
You’re welcome! Good luck with the eating and check out the University-run meal plan website for more information.